Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Hebrews 7, a chapter on the priesthood of Christ, reveals two aspects of Christ’s priesthood. The first aspect is the kingly priesthood, and the second aspect is the divine priesthood. As we saw in the last message, Christ is a kingly priest. His status is kingly, royal. Although He is a High Priest, He did not come out of the tribe of the priests but out of the tribe of the kings—Judah. Kingship is His status and makes Him a kingly priest.
Kingship is related to both righteousness and peace because kingship is a kind of rule and authority. In order to maintain righteousness and peace, we need authority. If Christ is to minister the processed God to us as our bread and wine, there must be an environment that is full of righteousness and peace. Whenever we come to the Lord’s table, we need to have the deep sensation that we are in a condition of righteousness and peace. Suppose, on the contrary, that we are continually fighting with one another. In such a case, there would be no righteousness and peace, and there would be no ministering of the bread and wine to us. In order to have the processed God ministered to us for our enjoyment, everything between us and God and between us and one another must be all right. When everything is right, there will be peace, and in peace Christ will minister the processed God to us. Righteousness and peace come out of His kingship, for when the King is here, no one will fight. Everything will be peaceful. Christ’s kingship maintains an order of righteousness and peace. His kingly status is for the purpose of preserving a righteous and peaceful order.
The second aspect of Christ’s priesthood in Hebrews 7 is the divine priesthood. For Christ to be kingly is a matter of status, but for Him to be divine is a matter of constituent, a matter of His having the necessary, basic element that constitutes Him to be such a High Priest. Christ’s being divine refers to His nature. Christ is kingly according to His royal status and divine according to His divine nature. He is kingly because He is a King and He is divine because He is the Son of God. Christ, the Son of God, not only has kingship but also divinity. While His kingship maintains a condition that is full of righteousness and peace so that He may minister the processed God to us for our enjoyment, His divinity constitutes Him as a High Priest who is living and full of life so that He may be able to continue His priesthood perpetually.
Divinity is Christ’s nature and life. As such a divine person full of divinity, He is the living One. With Christ as the kingly High Priest there is no unrighteousness or strife but righteousness and peace. With Christ as the divine High Priest there is no death. He has conquered, subdued, and swallowed death. Why is there no death with our divine High Priest? Because He is life. Christ is divine. Divinity is His very essence, nature, element, and makeup. His kingly status solves all problems and maintains a peaceful environment. But He is divine, not just kingly. Since Christ is divine, wherever He is, there is no death. Wherever He is, there is resurrection and death is swallowed. Wherever Christ is, there is the absence of death. Christ’s priesthood is the absence of death. Have you ever heard that the priesthood of Christ is the absence of death? Light is the absence of darkness, for whenever light is present, darkness must be absent. Likewise, Christ’s presence means the absence of death.
Why does Christ’s presence mean the absence of death? Because He is divine. Divinity is the constituent of His priesthood. His priesthood is constituted, composed, with His divinity. As wood is the element of a table, so divinity is the element of Christ’s being the High Priest. When His ministry comes in, it means the absence of death. On the one hand, the priesthood of Christ is the absence of death; on the other hand, it is the presence of life. Thus, the priesthood of Christ is the absence of death and the presence of life. As the kingly High Priest, Christ ministers the processed God to us, and as the divine High Priest, wherever He is, life is present. His priesthood is the presence of life.
Have you ever noticed the two aspects of Christ’s priesthood in this chapter—the kingly aspect and the divine aspect? Perhaps you are wondering how we can prove that there are these two aspects. This is easy to do. In 7:2 we have the King of righteousness and the King of peace, and in 7:28 we have “the Son, Who is perfected forever.” The Son of God has been appointed to be the High Priest, and the Son of God is certainly divine. Hence, at the beginning of this chapter we have the King and at the end we have the Son of God. Although I spent much time on this chapter, I could not understand it until one day I got the two words kingly and divine. When I saw that the first part is the kingly aspect and the second part is the divine aspect, the whole chapter became clear.
This wonderful High Priest according to the order of Melchisedec has not been constituted “according to the law of a fleshy commandment, but according to the power of an indestructible life,” (v. 16) for “the law perfected nothing” (v. 19). Since the law did not perfect anything, we need to say to the law, “Law, you are nothing. You never profited anyone. Law, stay away from me.” Our High Priest has not been constituted with the law but with the power of an indestructible life. Who is He? He is the Son of God. You may also say to the law, “Dear Law, can you compare yourself with the Son of God? I have been cheated by you for years, thinking that you were something when actually you were nothing. Now, Law, I have life!” We have the Lord’s life, the life that is the Son of God Himself.
The Son of God is not simple, for He has two aspects. Most Christians only know that the Son of God is the Only Begotten Son, but the Bible says that He is also the Firstborn Son. The Only Begotten Son is one aspect, and the Firstborn Son is the other aspect. The Only Begotten Son, who existed from eternity past, only had divinity. The Firstborn Son, who according to Psalm 2 and Acts 13:33 was born as such on the day of resurrection, has both divinity and humanity. On the day of resurrection, the man Jesus was born to be the Son of God. This does not relate to the aspect of His being the Only Begotten Son but to the aspect of His being the Firstborn Son.
Do not think that this is merely a doctrinal matter. It is related to the qualifications of Christ as the High Priest. Although the Only Begotten Son was wonderful, He had only divinity but not humanity, which is necessary for Him to be our High Priest. Verse 28 says that the Son of God has been perfected forever, proving that the Son of God here must not be just the Only Begotten Son but also the Firstborn Son. The Only Begotten Son of God needed no perfection because He was eternally perfect. But, in order for Him to be the Firstborn Son of God, He needed a great deal of perfection. He had to put on humanity in His incarnation and live on earth for thirty-three and a half years, passing through all the experience of human living. Then He needed to pass through death, tasting, overcoming, subduing, and swallowing death. After that, He had to come out of death in resurrection. After His resurrection, He, as the Firstborn Son of God with humanity, was fully perfected. Now He is not just the eternal Only Begotten Son of God, but also the perfected Firstborn Son of God. Therefore, now He is completely perfected, equipped, and qualified to be our divine High Priest.
How was Christ constituted to be such a High Priest? In the way of having His divinity incarnated into humanity, living on the earth, going into death, and coming out of death in resurrection. Who is He now? He is the Son of God in two aspects, the aspects of the Only Begotten Son and of the Firstborn Son. Now He is human as well as divine. Having passed through incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, He is fully equipped and qualified for the divine priesthood. In this High Priest there is not only no worldliness or sin, but there is absolutely no death. Death has been completely swallowed up by His divine life.
Christ lives forever. Death cannot prevent Him from continuing as the High Priest. All of the Levitical priests lived until a certain age and then died. Death prevented them from continuing as priests. After the first high priest died, he was replaced by the second who, in turn, was replaced by the third because death prevented them from continuing in the office of high priest. There is no need to say that those priests were unable to save others; they were even unable to save themselves. They were all a hopeless case. But Christ’s priesthood is different. While the Aaronic priesthood was still subject to death, the priesthood according to the order of Melchisedec, constituted with the element of life, is the absence of death. The life with which it is constituted has passed through death and has swallowed up death. This life is indestructible. How do we know that this life is indestructible? Because it has been tested by everything and by every kind of situation. It was tested by the Lord’s mother in the flesh, by all the members of His fleshly family, by all the sufferings of His human life, and by all the temptations of the Devil, Satan. Ultimately, it was tested by death, the grave, Hades, and the power of darkness. This life has been tested by everything, and nothing can destroy it. It is absolutely indestructible. Our High Priest is constituted with the element of such an indestructible life.
Christ’s kingly priesthood is for ministry and His divine priesthood is for saving. Verse 25 says, “Wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost those who come forward to God through Him, seeing He is always living to intercede for them.” Why is He able to save to the uttermost? Because He is living and because He is the indestructible life. Nothing can destroy Him. Although I may have the heart to save you all, I can easily be destroyed and terminated. But Christ can save us to the uttermost because His priesthood is composed with an indestructible life. Regardless of our situation or the condition in which we may find ourselves, we can tell Satan, “Satan, do your best. Send all of your armies against me. I am not afraid of them, because I have the divine priesthood to take care of me!” What is this divine priesthood? It is the saving power of the indestructible life. While the ministry of the kingly High Priest is to minister the processed God to us for our enjoyment, not to offer sacrifices to God for our sins, the work of the divine High Priest is mainly to save us.
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